Monday, February 27, 2012

What Do Your Defensive Motions Prevent?

  I recently asked some student's to show me their preferred (favorite if you will) defensive strike (“Block”). The majority stated that an inside forearm strike was usually preferred, but some leaned towards the outside forearm strike.
  Now contrary to (popular) belief, I didn't ask this question to put anybody on the spot. I asked it to get a idea of their perspective on protective motions (in general). As students, when we're shown a motion, we tend to view that motion/technique as being (somewhat) Iconic. As if they were set in stone, and it would be some form of blasphemy to deviate from that initially shown form.
  Kihon (basics), are just that, basics. They teach a fundamental motion and/or manor of performing that motion. That doesn't mean that they are (always) the end-all only way of performing that motion.
  When I received their answers to this question, I asked how it prevented/protected them from other types of strikes? (I know, a rather unfair question, LOL). The point (of my question), was to illustrate their own (self) limiting of their practice.
  When students are taught/shown an individual forearm strike, that motion is not the end-all motion of defensive tactics. It is intended to be utilized with additional motions (either by the same arm, or in conjunction with the other arm/legs.
  If you motion an arm (either) upward or downward, then across, and down or up, which type of forearm strike (block) have you performed? You've done all 3 (in one motion). Because these motions were taught individually, does not mean they can/should only be performed in that manner.
  When I point this out, I'm often told that I would be wasting movement, if I did all those motions (together). Really? Perform an inside forearm strike, then perform a downward forearm strike, then perform an upward forearm strike. After having done this, then perform one, inward sweeping motion that progresses down and let it circle back up to end in front of you, which motions were smoother, and faster? (and which of these motions protected you from different types of threats more completely).
  Taika says that “we” (meaning “us” students, LOL) are like children when we've been shown a technique/motion. We perform that motion a thousand times, but never work on how to apply it? We are taught a milking punch, but we understand that just moving one's wrist back and forth, doesn't do anything (until it's done at the end of a striking motion performed by the arm).
  The same problem occurs in kata practice. Students are consistently pausing during the performance of their kata. The (main) purpose of kata practice is the performance of motions (not necessarily techniques) in order to make them more natural when they are utilized. By including those (their own) pauses, they are creating the situation to occur during (actual) execution of those techniques.
  This is something that I (myself) am constantly monitoring (in my own kata execution). It's a big reason that Taika has us do application versions of the kata. This pausing contributes to how people come up with these odd (more like stupid) versions of bunkai that they present. They didn't even consider practicality when determining those techniques.
  If you take a student, and throw 10” (lightweight, LOL) plastic balls at them (without any other training), they'll learn to bat them away (similar to how a cat does). This is a natural motion. If you (progressively) decrease the size of those balls (to golf ball size), and have the student intend to hit them away (using any/all of the forearm primarily to do so) while doing so, you'll start to have a student who will now (begin to) use full-range covering motions (in deference to the aforementioned stuttering strikes/blocks). 
 While performing these actions, it makes the student's defensive strikes more natural and more inclusive (covering a greater range).


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